Most of the time when we order up some beers, we're just happy to put that life-giving elixir into our bellies, especially after a rough work week. But it isn't often that we actually consider how the delicious beer is created.
Sure, we know that you need hops, whatever those are, and water, and some other stuff, and then you put it in a pot and ... then ... beer happens? Not quite.
Dave McLean details the science of brewing, from the perspective of a craft brewer.
Dave McLean has a degree in brewing science from UC Davis and is the owner and brewmaster at San Francisco's Magnolia Pub & Brewery.
Dave McLean, owner and brewmaster of San Francisco's Magnolia Pub and Brewery, demonstrates the proper way to enjoy a beer. "We usually mindlessly open our beers and pour them, and don't think too much about it," he says.
Alcoholic beverage made usually from malted barley, flavoured with hops, and brewed by slow fermentation. Known from ancient times, beer was especially common in northern climates not conducive to grape cultivation for wine. It is produced by employing either a bottom-fermenting yeast, which falls to the bottom of the container when fermentation is completed, or a top-fermenting yeast, which rises to the surface. Lager beers (from lagern, to store), of German origin, are bottom-fermented and stored at a low temperature for several months; most are light in colour, with high carbonation, medium hop flavor, and alcohol content of 35% by volume. Top-fermented beers, popular in Britain, include ale, stout, and porter; they are characterized by a prominent head of released carbon dioxide, a sharper and more strongly hopped flavour than lagers, and an alcohol content of 46.5% by volume. See alsomalt.
@pokerandwine - have you ever asked yourself why you are a "fan" of Guinness and what makes you say that Guinness is brewed in London, because it's where Diageo is listed and headquartered? If you are in the US I doubt the Guinness you drink is imported. My point is quite simple and logical: it is useless transporting "water and glass/cans" when you can easily find superior products locally. Guinness is cheap and does not really travel well, yet it is extremely easy to drink and they invest much more in distribution and marketing hence its recognition. You won't find Budweiser, Guinness, Coors on beer world rankings for organoleptic quality and taste. BTW: Even if you're in the centre of Dublin Guinness varies from pub to pub. Furthermore, the worst Guinness examined has always been found in London (it is unstable and sits too long between pulls). And yes, there is significant scientific evidence and studies for all of this.
@Ladyfox14 - re stemware for beer tasting/examination: I would try them all. I've found that it all depends what you want to know about the beer you're drinking. It is useless serving a gueze in a British ale pint glass when you already have a simple wine glass on hand that would be much more adequate for experiencing the beverage. So if you are a wine connoisseur and want to start exploring beers you can simply just use your high quality stemware. On another note you can also choose the glass based on the level of effervescence of the beer but this really wouldn't reveal the quality of the beer.
Remember, there is beer and there are beers - enjoying beer is simply finding the type you like.
@ladyfox14: I actually meant trying to drink beer from different wine and champagne glasses. mburlison posted a great link to answer your question on which beers go well with particular wine and beer glasses (page 1 of this forum).
@mavallarino: Your beer theory is very limited in scope. Let's suppose I'm a huge fan of Guinness. Although the freshest Guinness must be brewed in London, I shoudn't go all the way there to consume it. I might still prefer the imported Guinness to the local San Franciscan Anchor Steam. It all depends on your taste buds.
@mavallarino - Hmm, I think when @pokerandwine mentioned drinking beers in different glasses, I think poker meant in different beer glasses, not wine glasses. Since I drink wine, I'm not sure how I feel about drinking beer in wine glasses. I'm sure it makes for an interesting experience. Red wine cups are meant to help the wine breathe better whereas white wine does not necessarily need to breathe. And I am guessing that the champagne glasses were built to better keep the bubbles fizzier for a longer period of time. Which beers did you find get better when drinking out of wine stemware?
Fantastic intervention! I think one must first make beer to enjoy it fully.
For sciencequiche: it's the content, not the style that is important.
For Nick (and others): 'drinkable' could be a bit subjective. I would define this as "easy to drink" or highly carbonated and closer to water than anything else. Have you ever tried an un carbonated Belgian quadruple? This you will find a bit less drinkable and thus you will consume less as a result. The idea for Budweiser is to "push" product in the most efficient way, statistically and quantatatively speaking with advanced methods for production, weather and logistics. The product isn't important, it is an "idea" that Budweiser is selling - and this represents their savvy "marketing". Besides, what do you think it would do to the market for Malt and grains if Budweiser used 100% malt? What makes you think that rice is the only material Budweiser uses for a malt substitute?
For others regarding glasses: I taste all my beers in different wine glasses. I have done some personal experiments with this and have found that wine stemware will bring out the best and the worst of a beer - great if you are trying to improve your beers.
My theory: beer and ales can only be consumed and produced locally. The most important ingredient for making beer is water and natural ingredients. I like to compare it to barbeque, Texas BBQ is different than Memphis BBQ and they cannot be consumed anywhere else no matter how much you try.
Great program, and great article, rooney. I, too, have always wondered what those Bud Light commercials mean when they say their beer is "drinkable." It doesn't make any sense. When is beer not drinkable? When it's frozen? It's like their ad department had to make up a new word to describe the taste because any typical way of describing the taste would be negative.
In all fairness, though, McLean himself uses "drinkability" when he talks about the beer he's drinking here, so maybe it does have some legit use. But I would hope the "drinkability" of an Anchor brew would be higher than that of a Bud Light.
what kind of science goes into making flavorless beers like coors light? what exactly does the "light" mean from a science perspective? i found a pretty funny article on light beer over at onthebutton: http://onthebutton.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/light_beer/